METZ, France (AP) — Wahbi Khazri scored a contender for goal of the season with his outrageous lob from around 70 meters salvaging a point for last-place Saint-Etienne in a 1-1 draw at struggling Metz in the French league on Saturday.
At the top end of the table, Houssem Aouar and Karl Toko Ekambi scored as Lyon beat Lens 2-1 to move within two points of its second-place visitors.
Algeria international Farid Boulaya gave Metz the lead in the ninth minute with a free kick into the top corner before Khazri equalized in the 16th. The Tunisia forward ran from his own area, spotted an advanced Alexandre Oukidja before picking his spot to lob the Metz goalkeeper.
“We know we are in a historic club, a big club. We fight for this club,” Saint-Etienne center back Timothee Kolodziejczak told Amazon Prime Video. “We’re still 20th today, it’s not easy. But we don’t give up, we still give everything.”
Khazri raised his tally to seven league goals this season and could have added another in the 38th but was denied by Oukidja, whose foot diverted his low strike. English goalkeeper Etienne Green preserved the point for the visitors by saving a header from Boubacar Kouyate and a shot from Opa Nguette in the 88th.
Metz snapped a three-game losing streak while Saint-Etienne still has not won this season. Both teams remain in the relegation zone.
Ekambi netted a penalty in the 25th minute for Lyon before Aouar scored from a rebound in the 41st. Teenager Arnaud Kalimuendo pulled one back on the hour mark with a miskicked shot that looped over goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.
“It’s the best team that we’ve faced,” Lyon coach Peter Bosz told Canal Plus television. “There are games that we don’t deserve to lose. Maybe today we don’t deserve to win. They played really well. It wasn’t our best game. We lost possession a lot, especially in the first half.”
Lens had the opportunity to take the lead in the 12th. Jonathan Clauss’ half-volley was cleared off the line by Lyon center back Jerome Boateng. Lens forward Wesley Said pounced on the rebound to head goalward but Jason Denayer diverted the ball onto the bar.
Lyon proved more clinical. Bruno Guimaraes played a one-two with Brazil international Lucas Paqueta before Lens defender Facundo Medina brought him down inside the area. Toko Ekambi opened the scoring from the penalty spot by sending goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca the wrong way.
The hosts doubled the lead when Aouar released Toko Ekambi down the left wing. The Cameroon forward had his curling shot parried by Leca, but Aouar followed up to head home.
Lens coach Franck Haise replaced Florian Sotoca with Gael Kakuta at halftime. The former Chelsea midfielder made an instant impact with his movement and creativity. Seko Fofana made a cross for Kakuta, whose close-range volley forced Lopes into a reflex save in the 47th. A minute later, Kakuta fed Wesley Said, whose point-blank shot was saved by Lopes.
Lens finally found the net when Kakuta cut the ball back for Kalimuendo.
Lens pushed for an equalizer but Lyon held on for the three points after blowing a two-goal lead the previous weekend to lose 3-2 to Nice.
On Friday, Angel Di Maria set up the equalizer and then netted the winning goal himself as Paris Saint-Germain rallied past defending champion Lille 2-1 to stretch its lead at the top of the French league to 10 points.
The 12th round ends Sunday with Angers vs. Nice, Bordeaux vs. Reims, Montpellier vs. Nantes, Strasbourg vs. Lorient, Troyes vs. Rennes, Brest vs. Monaco and Clermont vs. Marseille.
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